2010 NFL Predictions: 10 Things Oakland Raiders Fans Can Expect
Well folks, it's almost time for training camp, preseason games and roster cutdowns. It's time for players to prove their worth, coaches to yell and fans to stock up for games.
For the Raider Nation, it's the end of a summer vacation that has seen a lot of football activity, now about to see if the actions pay off in a great season....or Tom Cable becomes his own worst enemy and is replaced.
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls....the top ten things to expect out of your Oakland Raiders!
10. Oakland sees .500 in the first four games
This isn't much of a stretch, considering the Raiders were 1-1 last year, 1-1 in 2008 and 2-2 in 2007. So when does Oakland get to .500?
If they pull off an open season win with the Titans, the Raiders may be past it, right out of the gates.
If they lose to the Titans, expect it in Week two, when the Raiders have their home opener against the Rams.
9. Oakland Ends the Streak
If anything frustrates Raider fans, it has to be the streak. Year in and year out, the Raiders either get ripped apart by the Chargers, or lose it in the fourth quarter, causing dismay and bitterness for weeks to come.
Last season, the Raiders were leading late, only to have a run by Darren Sproles win the game for the Chargers.
However, with the combination of Jason Campbell coming to Oakland, the removal of JaMarcus Russell and San Diego's own problems in week five the Raiders should see the Chargers leave Oakland with a loss...and possibly, the shift in division strength.
8. Michael Huff and Matt Leinart
Going back to 2006, the Raiders had the No. 7 overall pick, while the Cards had the No. 10 pick in the first round.
The Raiders, looking for defensive help, picked up Michael Huff, from the National Champions Texas, while the Cards picked up Matt Leinart.
Both players had their time, Huff was labeled a bust for several seasons, until this year he finally figured out how to pick off passes. Leinart, of course lost to Oakland in 2006 and was also replaced by Kurt Warner.
This should be a good game in week three, with the Raiders on the road. I'm seeing the Raiders win one in the sand.
7. Zach Miller goes to the Pro Bowl, outright
Sure, year in and year out, he has been the relief valve for a defense that has had to go quickly, into play. If the offensive line breaks down, Miller winds up making a catch that leaves others looking stunned.
With a new quarterback throwing the ball, can Miller keep the magic going?
Looks promising, considering the Raiders have been looking better every day with the Jason Campbell.
Likewise, it would be nice to see Miller finally get recognized for his actions.
6. Bush and McFadden power each other
Turn on the classics with Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson, you can see what an offense looks like when all the right parts are working together.
Allen can crash through openings, or Bo can simply outrun anyone else on the field, I can imagine coaches having to deal with such problems on deciding which way to score.
With the Raiders right now, you are seeing the development of a similar nature.
Be it Bush punishing the lines early, then McFadden exploiting a tired team, or the two players alternating their dishing of punishment, I think it will reach a point when teams will simply not want to see either player run the ball.
I would expect both players to have over 700 yards rushing, and over five TDs each, as Hue Jackson is going to enjoy his new job.
5. Oakland's Defense starts to surprise opponents
Sure, the secondary is good, but can we stop the run?
It's the question pundits love to throw out there, as teams are not scared to run it, they do not have to risk throwing the ball against the Raiders.
With the drafting of Rolando McClain and Richard Seymour's second season in the Black Hole, I can imagine things improving a bit, as players find themselves developing at a faster rate.
Seeing McClain hitting a hole, that normally goes one way in Oakland, teams will suddenly find a nasty surprise waiting for them when this mountain parks in the daylight, causing an eclipse.
Lights out, little man...can you imagine Rolando McClain leading the team in tackles? I can....but I can also see him in some plays getting into the backfield, breaking up plays from the snap, too.
4. Career season out of Jason Campbell
Sure, it's his first year in Oakland, everyone is ecstatic, talking about the playoffs and people want the end results to be great.
Some wonder about Jason's ability to adjust to a new team. After all, Jason has gone through several coaches, trying to learn different offensive styles, while not exactly being earth-shattering in quality.
But, given we had Russell for a QB, anyone is considered an improvement.
Add into the fact that Oakland has done well in the past in bringing in other QBs, like Plunkett, Hostetler, Gannon, Lamonica....why not?
I can see Jason Campbell wanting to prove Washington wrong. I can see the Raiders wanting to get past the Russell mistake, and nothing makes people forget mistakes faster than winning.
Hey Jason...a 10-6 season will probably get you a parade in Oakland.
3. Better than .500 in the division
Getting to .500 in the NFL is a simple deal, 8 wins, out of 16 tries.
Getting to .500 in ones' division, out of six games, isn't too hard either. Winning at home, pulling a lucky one out on the road, Oakland hasn't seen much the last seven years.
But somehow, Oakland the last two years has won in two stadiums that used to be death traps for the Raiders.
We can win in Arrowhead, and have done so, in back-to-back seasons.
Then we've gone into Denver and left the crowd speechless, or running on the field, drunk.
2-4 records aren't great, but going 0-6, for several years, is a nightmare. For the Raiders, I don't want a .500 record in the division.
I can see the Raiders sweeping Kansas City, taking at least one from Denver...then upsetting the Chargers, to make the mark 4-2.
If it comes down to tiebreakers, it should be enough to win the division.....any questions?
2. Battle of the Bay
Pride is a powerful thing to play for.
It doesn't mean much in the statistics, but considering the Bay Rivalry, the hatred that flows between these two fan bases....and the games that have been played, I can expect this one to be hard-fought and probably carry out into the streets afterward.
Raiders, 49ers. Oakland owns the head-to-head matchup, six wins to five losses. Both teams have had their great times and their pitiful excuses...for once, the 49ers are looking at the division as winnable, while the Raiders look at this season as a great step forward.
Considering the Raiders get the 49ers twice this year and the one that counts is early in the year, it can give the Raiders momentum, or send the team to Denver, angry for a win.
Heck with that, go to Denver angry...and want to extend a winning streak.
Personal Favorite from this matchup? Sept. 29, 1991. Raiders in LA win without a touchdown, 12-6. Steve Young picked off twice.
1. Raiders in the playoffs for first time since 2002
For Tom Cable, his words prove true....without Russell, the Raiders make the playoffs, the very next season.
By drafting smart, picking up a good quarterback and injecting a fired-up attitude from Hue Jackson, the Raiders stun several pundits, but make believers out of others as the Silver and Black win the division, locking it up with a win on Dec. 19, beating Denver in Oakland.
For added measure, they also win against Kansas City on Jan. 2, 2011, advancing to the third seed in the playoffs, getting at least one home game against the New York Jets.